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About Australia - Overview

Australia is a stable, democratic and culturally diverse nation with a highly skilled workforce and one of the strongest performing economies in the world. With spectacular landscapes and a rich ancient culture, Australia is a land like no other. It is the earth's sixth-largest country in land area and is the only nation to govern an entire continent.

Culture

Australian culture is as broad and varied as the country's landscape. Australia is multicultural and multiracial and this is reflected in the country's food, lifestyle and cultural practices and experience. Australia has an important heritage from its indigenous people, which plays a defining role in the cultural landscape. This diversity of influences creates a cultural environment in Australia that is lively, energised, innovative and outward looking.

Population

Snapshot Australia

Full Title
Commonwealth of Australia

Population
23 Million (December 2013)

Proportion of Population Born Overseas
28% (June 2013)

Proportion of Population Who Identify as Being of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Origin
2.5% (2011)

Capital City
Canberra

Largest City
Sydney Population 4.67 million (2013)

Surface Area
7.69 million sq kms (2.96 million sq miles)

Main language
English + more than 300 others

Currency
Australian dollar (AUD)

Life Expectancy
84 years (women) 80 years (men)

Gross Domestic Product Per Capita
A$67,100 (2013)

Workforce
12.3 million (June 2014)

Inflation Rate
3% (June 2014)

Value of Exports of Goods and Services
A$318.5 billion (2013)

Major Goods and Services Exports
Iron ores and concentrates, coal, natural gas, education travel services, gold

Major Imports
Recreational travel services, crude petroleum, passenger motor vehicles, refined petroleum, freight transport services

Main Trading Partners
China, Japan, United States, Republic of Korea, Singapore

As of October 2012, Australia's population is roughly 22.7 million people. The most populous states are New South Wales and Victoria, with their respective capitals, Sydney and Melbourne, the largest cities in Australia. Australia's population is concentrated along the coastal region of Australia from Adelaide to Cairns, with a small concentration around Perth, Western Australia. The centre of Australia is sparsely populated.

Climate

The majority of Australia experiences temperate weather for most of the year. The northern states of Australia are typically warm all the time, with the southern states experiencing cool winters but rarely sub-zero temperatures. Snow falls on the higher mountains during the winter months, enabling skiing in southern New South Wales and Victorian ski resorts, as well as the smaller resorts in Australia's island state, Tasmania.

Geography

Australia is an island continent and the world's sixth largest country (7,682,300 sq km). Lying between the Indian and Pacific oceans, the country is approximately 4,000 km from east to west and 3,200 km from north to south, with a coastline 36,735 km long. Canberra is Australia's capital city. With a population of approximately 320,000 people and situated in the Australian Capital Territory, Canberra is roughly half way between the two largest cities Melbourne and Sydney. Australia has 19 listed World Heritage properties. Australia is also famous for its landmark buildings including the Sydney Harbour Bridge; its ancient geology, as well as for its high country.

History

Australia's first inhabitants, the Aboriginal people, are believed to have migrated from some unknown point in Asia to Australia between 50,000 and 60,000 years ago.

While Captain James Cook is credited with Australia's European discovery in 1770, a Portuguese possibly first sighted the country, while the Dutch are known to have explored the coastal regions in the 1640s.

The first European settlement of Australia was in January 1788, when the First Fleet sailed into Botany Bay under the command of Captain Arthur Phillip. Originally established as a penal colony, by the 1830s the number of free settlers was increasing. Transportation of convicts to the eastern colonies was abolished in 1852 and to the western colonies in 1868.

Legal system

Australia follows a Westminster system of government and law inherited from the British who originally colonised the country.

There are two main political parties and a number of minor parties, which make up the Commonwealth Parliament. Each state and territory also has its own government.

States and Territories

There are six states in Australia:

New South Wales (NSW)

Queensland (Qld)

South Australia (SA)

Tasmania (TAS)

Victoria (VIC)

Western Australia (WA)

There are ten Australian territories outside the borders of the states. Two mainland territories that are often treated like states because of their significant population sizes.

The Australian Capital Territory (ACT)

The Northern Territory (NT)

Source: www.australia.gov.au